[ Country-by-Country Reports ]

HUNGARY (TIER 2)   [Extracted from U.S. State Dept Trafficking in Persons Report, June 2009]

Hungary is a source, transit, and destination country for women trafficked from Romania and Ukraine to and through Hungary to the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Denmark, Germany, Austria, Italy, Switzerland, France, and the United Arab Emirates for the purpose of commercial sexual exploitation. Experts noted a significant increase in trafficking within the country, mostly women from eastern Hungary trafficked to Budapest and areas along the Austrian border. Roma women and girls who grow up in Hungarian orphanages are highly vulnerable to internal sex trafficking.

The Government of Hungary does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so. Although Hungary sustained efforts in certain areas to combat trafficking in persons, it did not demonstrate the appreciable progress over the previous year contemplated by the minimum standards in the Trafficking Victims Protection Act. While the government’s anti-trafficking hotline referred an increased number of victims for assistance and the police implemented a new trafficking database to help improve victim identification, the government’s overall efforts to combat trafficking declined in 2008.

The government did not provide funding to NGOs for victim assistance and protection and caused one NGO to close its trafficking shelter -- one of only two in the country -- when it cancelled the lease for the government-owned building in which the shelter was housed. While the government offered alternative shelter space to the NGO, the location of the proposed facility was too remote to be practical and provide adequate assistance to victims. Hungary conducted no trafficking prevention efforts until the end of the reporting period when it began a three-month campaign focused on demand reduction in March 2009. In April 2008, the government adopted a national strategy, creating a national coordinator to coordinate all anti-trafficking efforts and to create an anti-trafficking national action plan; however, the national coordinator did not have its first meeting until February 2009 and the government appeared to do very little to implement the strategy during the reporting period.

Recommendations for Hungary: Increase funding to NGOs providing victim assistance and protection; continue sensitivity training for patrol officers to ensure proactive victim identification and appropriate, humane treatment of identified victims; increase the number of victims referred by police for assistance; increase the number of trafficking investigations and continue to ensure the majority of convicted traffickers serve some time in prison; conduct campaigns to reduce domestic demand for commercial sex acts; and increase general trafficking awareness efforts by warning vulnerable populations about the dangers of both sex and labor trafficking.

The Hungarian government’s law enforcement efforts were mixed during the reporting period. Hungary prohibits all forms of trafficking through Paragraph 175/b of its criminal code, though prosecutors rely on other trafficking-related statutes to prosecute most trafficking cases. Penalties prescribed in Paragraph 175/b range from one to 15 years’ imprisonment, which are sufficiently stringent and commensurate with those prescribed for other grave crimes, such as rape. Police and border guards conducted 21 trafficking investigations, a significant drop from 48 investigations in 2007. Authorities prosecuted 18 traffickers in 2008, compared with 20 in 2007. Convictions were obtained against 18 traffickers in 2008—16 for sex trafficking and two for labor trafficking—compared with 17 total convictions in 2007. In 2008, seven of 18 convicted traffickers received suspended sentences and served no time in prison compared to 2007 when only one convicted trafficker received a suspended sentence. During the reporting period, four traffickers were sentenced to up to three years’ imprisonment, one trafficker was sentenced to 18 months’ imprisonment, one trafficker was sentenced to two years’ imprisonment, and five traffickers were sentenced to five to nine years’ imprisonment. In 2008, the government provided victim sensitivity and treatment training for 15 judges, as well as victim identification training for crisis hotline operators. In January 2009, Hungarian and French authorities successfully disrupted an international sex trafficking ring and identified as many as 100 victims.

Hungary significantly decreased its victim assistance efforts during the reporting period. In 2008, the government provided no funding for NGOs providing victim assistance including shelter, medical care, legal assistance, and psychological counseling; in 2007, the government provided $150,000 for victim assistance. In June 2008, the government cancelled the lease for a government-owned building which housed one of only two trafficking shelters in the country. While the government offered an alternative facility space for the shelter, the location was too remote to adequately assist victims. During the reporting period, 88 trafficking victims were identified and assisted by NGOs, compared to 45 victims assisted in 2007. The government-run trafficking hotline referred 50 victims to NGOs for assistance, up from 37 victims referred for assistance by government officials in 2007. Law enforcement and consular officials identified approximately 26 victims domestically and abroad in 2008. Victims were not penalized for acts committed as a direct result of being trafficked and there were no reported cases of authorities’ mistreatment of trafficking victims. The government encouraged victims to assist with trafficking investigations and prosecutions; however, no victims assisted law enforcement during the reporting period. The government offered foreign victims a 30-day reflection period to decide whether to assist law enforcement; however, no victims applied for or received the 30-day temporary residency permits in 2008. Victims may apply for a six-month temporary residency permit if they choose to cooperate with law enforcement; there was no data available on the number of permits granted to trafficking victims during the reporting period.

Hungary demonstrated no increased efforts to prevent incidents of human trafficking throughout the year. The government did not conduct any anti-trafficking information or education campaigns during most of the reporting period. The government took limited measures to reduce the demand for commercial sex acts during this reporting period. In March 2009, at the end of the reporting period, the government began a three-month campaign focused on demand reduction. Hungary actively monitored immigration and emigration patterns for evidence of trafficking. During the year, the government provided anti-trafficking training to Hungarian troops prior to their deployment for international peacekeeping missions